Business Halacha: My Loan to My Neighbor Who Can’t Pay Me Back


houseQuestion: I lent my neighbor money. He (honestly) does not have money to pay, but has a house, a car, furniture and clothing. Is he obligated to sell personal assets to repay the loan?

Answer: In principle, a person is required to repay his loan even from personal assets. Similarly, beis din can collect these assets or sell them to enforce payment.

However, the Torah teaches (regarding a person who pledged to the Temple) that we allow the person to retain a certain minimum amount for his own support. This is known in halacha as siddur nechasim. We allow a borrower, similarly, an amount to cover his own food for a month, clothing for a year, and basic household furniture. We also allow him to retain two each of his professional tools. This would include his car, if integral to his profession. (C.M. 97:23)

A person is also obligated to sell his house in order to repay his loan, even if the loan is relatively small compared to the value of the house. (Shach 97:14; Rama 104:3) However, if he can rent the house, he might not be required to sell it, but can repay from the rental income. (Pischei Choshen, Halva’ah 2:22)

Authored by Rabbi Meir Orlian

These articles are for learning purposes only and cannot be used for final halachic decision.

The Business Halacha email is a project of Business Halacha Institute ( and is under the auspices of Rav Chaim Kohn.

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  1. I know a person that people coem to for serious loans, $50,000-$100,000 etc.

    He agrees to lend if the borrower is willing to put a lien on they home.

    That way, the borower takes the loan way more serious and will ussualy only borrow if he means to pay back.

    A. B.

  2. Many psokim hold that the gamara’s minimums are inapplkcable today, since subsistence is more complicated and expensive, and parnassa options are more complex and limiting. Therefore, we need to leave a person with more assets, and we can’t easily ask them to move (sell or rent house)

  3. It is sad how people take advantage of their fellow jews when so desperate.
    I think the shayla should be asked, CAN YOU BORROW MONEY IF YOU KNOW YOU WILL NOT PAY IT BACK!

  4. Agree with #2,(not just that time). The world has never been this complex and with such abundant materialism. The needs, which were once luxuries, have become necessities, thus the average person has become accustomed to needing so much more for everyday life. Everything has become much more difficult. Even those who were sure of being able to repay now find themselves either without jobs, or loss from investments or going out of business, etc. Hopefully, all who need to repay their loans will be able to, with the help of Hashem.